Ears on the Odyssey

Review: Dear Girl

deargirl

Guest blogger Emily Calkins dissects the nuisances in this touching picturebook

This girl power picture book, co-written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and her daughter Paris, shares advice for navigating the world. Amy Krouse Rosenthal passed away in 2017, and Paris reads the audiobook, which makes the final pages reassurance that “you can always always always turn to me,” especially heartbreaking.

Overall, Rosenthal’s narration is peppy and warm. Each page is an instruction or piece of advice that begins “Dear Girl.” This repetitive structure could easily lead to a monotonous reading, but Rosenthal varies her pacing and tone enough to keep listeners engaged. The reading would have benefited from even more variety, however. When the text says “stop…AND DANCE!” in all capitals and a larger font size, Rosenthal doesn’t use a significant change is volume or pitch to capture the exuberance of the text and illustration.

There is a distracting difference near the end of the book, when the page reads “…remember you can turn to any page in this book…” but Rosenthal’s narration says “…remember you can turn to any part of this book…” It’s unclear whether the change is intentional. Publishers do change texts to reflect that fact that a book is being listened to instead of read, but in a picture book, where a listener is very often following along in print, this change is confusing. In a book that’s only 4 minutes long, even one snag – intentional or not – is a significant flaw. An engaging listen, but not remarkable.

Dear Girl by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal, read by Paris Rosenthal. 4 minutes. HarperAudio, 2018.

Emily Calkins is the Readers’ Services Program Coordinator at the King County Library System. Emily reviews for Audiofile and currently a member of RUSA. She served two years on YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults. She co-hosts KCLS’ podcast, The Desk Set, and whenever people ask how she reads so much, she tells them that she listens to most of her books. Catch her on Twitter @emily_calkins

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